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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Identifying Fraxinus excelsior tolerant to ash dieback: Visual field monitoring versus a molecular marker

Menkis, Audrius; Bakys, Remigijus; Stein aslund, Matilda; Davydenko, Kateryna; Elfstrand, Malin; Stenlid, Jan; Vasaitis, Rimvydas


Ash dieback (ADB) caused by the pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus is the cause of massive mortality of Fraxinus spp. in Europe. The aim of this work was to check for the presence of the molecular marker for ADB tolerance in mapped healthy-looking F. excelsior trees, and to compare its occurrence in trees exhibiting severe ADB symptoms. Monitoring of 135 healthy-looking F. excelsior on the island of Gotland, Sweden, showed that after 3-4 years 99.3% of these trees had 0%-10% crown damage, thus remaining in a similar health condition as when first mapped. After 5-6 years, 94.7% of these trees had 0%-10% crown damage. Molecular analysis of leaf tissues from 40 of those showed the presence of the molecular marker in 34 (85.0%) trees, while it was absent in 6 (15.0%) trees. Analysis of leaf tissues from 40 severely ADB-diseased trees showed the presence of the molecular marker in 17 (42.5%) trees, but its absence in 23 (57.5%) trees (p < .0001). The results demonstrated that monitoring of healthy-looking F. excelsior is a simple and straightforward approach for the selection of presumably ADB-tolerant ash for future breeding. The cDNA-based molecular marker revealed moderate capacity on its own to discriminate between presumably ADB-tolerant and susceptible F. excelsior genotypes.


ash dieback; breeding for resistance; disease tolerance; Fraxinus; Hymenoscyphus fraxineus

Published in

Forest Pathology
2020, Volume: 50, number: 1, article number: e12572
Publisher: WILEY